Bulimic behaviours and psychopathology in obese adolescents and in their parents

Pascale Isnard, Laure Quantin, Samuele Cortese, Bruno Falissard, Dara Musher-Eizenman, Antoine Guedeney, Marie Laure Frelut, Marie Christine Mouren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective. To help identify and advance the understanding of the potential mechanisms underlying the association between parents' and adolescents' psychological maladjustment in obesity, we evaluated bulimic behaviours and psychopathology in a clinical sample of obese adolescents and in their parents. Methods. This is a cross-sectional cohort study including 115 severely obese, treatment-seeking adolescents aged 12-17 years (mean age: 14.2; mean body mass index z-score: 4.32), and their parents (115 mothers and 96 fathers). Adolescents filled out the Bulimic Investigatory Test, Edinburgh (BITE), the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory for Children (STAIC). Their parents completed the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ) and the BITE. A child psychiatrist filled out the Montgomery and Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) and the Brief Scale for Anxiety (BSA) for the adolescents. Results. Obese adolescents demonstrated significant correlations between the severity of bulimic symptoms and the degree of emotional symptomatology, such as depression and anxiety, but not with the severity of obesity. Psychopathological maladjustment and bulimic symptoms in obese adolescents were significantly associated with the maternal psychopathological disturbances, especially anxiety and somatisation in mother. In fact, maternal psychopathology, not maternal bulimic symptoms, was the factor most strongly associated with bulimic behaviours in obese adolescents. Discussion. These results highlight the importance of including an adolescent and parental psychiatric assessment (bulimic, depressive and anxiety symptoms), particularly maternal psychopathology in the treatment of severely obese adolescents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)474-482
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Pediatric Obesity
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010


  • adolescence
  • bulimic symptom
  • obesity
  • parents
  • Psychopathology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health Policy
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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